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How to Sharpen Hedge Shears

How to sharpen hedge shears featured image.

Hedge shears are a great tool for controlling your landscaping and giving it a personal touch. Over time, these tools often become dull. This will make them increasingly difficult to use. One easy way to tell that it is time to sharpen your shears is if you feel a lot of resistance when using them.

The only resistance you should feel is from the bush or shrub you are trimming. It is possible to sharpen your own hedge shears quickly and safely by following these directions.

Before you begin, it is a good idea to collect the necessary supplies. You will want:

  • Box wrench set
  • ¬†Stiff bristle brush
  • Leather work gloves
  • Vise grip
  • 10-inch mill file
  • Dry, soft clothes
  • Light lubricating oil
  • Safety goggles

Below we’ve listed 6 steps which will teach you how to sharpen hedge shears.

Step 1: Check the Pivot Nut

If the pivot nut that connects the blades is loose it makes them drift apart during cutting. As a result, you will tear at the twig or branch instead of cleanly cutting it. Check how tight the pivot nut is on your hedges. There should be no play in it. If needed, use a box socket wrench to tighten it.

It is possible that this step alone will fix any problems your hedge shears are having.

Test them out on a sheet of paper. If your shears cannot cleanly cut the paper, it is time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Check the Blade for Curves/Bends

Look directly down each blade to make sure it is perfectly straight. If you notice that one of them is bent, you will need to loosen the pivot nut to separate the two blades. Then, use a vise grip and some very thick leather gloves to straighten the blade. Again, check to see if this solved your problems.

Step 3: Clean the Blades

You will need a stiff bristle brush to properly clean your blades. Try to remove any rust you see on the blades while also removing any leaves or dirt that is stuck to it. After using your bristle brush, wipe the blades down with a soft cloth.

Step 4: Sharpen the Blades with a Mill File

This step is easier if you have separated your blades. You will want to put on your safety goggles if you have not done so already. Identify the original bevel in your blades. It is a good idea to have the blades in a vise grip during this step. While the blades are completely apart, use the mill file over the bevel in long, smooth strokes.

You will want to hold the file in both hands. Start each stroke at the handle and move down the blade.

Always move the file in one direction only. That direction should be away from you. While you are working, you will be able to see the clean metal left behind by the file. Continue filing until there is clean metal exposed all over the edge. This should not take long – usually fewer than a dozen strokes.

Step 5: Remove Burrs

To check your work, run a soft cloth along the edge. If it sticks, there are likely metal burrs that need to be removed. You will want to hit those spots with the mill file again. Another method for removing the burrs would be to use 300-grit sandpaper. You simply sand the back sides of both blades. You will want to keep them flat and sand in a circular motion.

Step 6: Oil the Blades

After your blades are nice and sharp, it is a great idea to oil them. After putting your hedge shears back together, use a light oil on a soft cloth. Simply rub the cloth up and down all sides of the blades. This will help to protect them from both rust and corrosion. You are ready to test out your shears now. Ideally, they will cut better than ever!

Final Thoughts

If these steps do not give you the results you want, it is best to hand the job over to a professional. You will find that you have to sharpen your blades quite often if you use them for things they are not intended for. Investing in a good pair of hedge clippers to work alongside your hedge shears can be useful. This will allow you to save your shears while also getting your work done quicker.

For more tips on sharpening hedge shears check out this post from instructables.

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